Advice Column

Dear Martha:

My eight-year-old son got sent home early from school. Supposedly he pulled a girl’s ponytail so hard it made her cry. I don’t believe it. My son’s a kind-hearted kid.

He says the girl waves her hair in his face. That it touches his desk and gets in his way. All he was doing was moving it.

I’m angry that she didn’t get punished. It’s not fair. What can I do?

Angry Mother


Dear Angry Mother:

Imagine your son old enough to drive. He’s traveling close enough to the woman’s car in front of him that he can read all the stickers on her bumper. Suddenly she stops, without giving, what he thinks, is proper warning, so he smashes into her car, hurting her and damaging the car. Whose fault is that?

Instead of being angry at the girl in your son’s class and seeking to place blame elsewhere, teach your son to maintain a respectful distance, even when the hair is touching his desk.

He needs to learn alternative actions to hurting someone. For example, could he have said something to the teacher or asked to switch seats? Instead he pulled her hair which only got him in trouble.

Excusing an individual’s behavior, even at such a young age, can lead to a lifetime of excuses.



Advice Column

Dear Martha:

I have a problem. I’m planning a dinner party for a bunch of good friends. I know what I want to serve, but when I invited my friends, one said she couldn’t eat gluten, another was vegan and a third couldn’t eat dark greens.

This pretty much rules out my plans.

What do I do? Cancel the party? I can’t afford to buy premade foods and I’m not much of a cook.

Any suggestions?



Dear Frustrated:

With today’s awareness of what foods work for us and which ones don’t, when you invite company, you either only invite those who can eat what you’re planning on serving, or turn it into a pot luck.

The advantage of pot luck is that everyone can eat at least one dish, so no one goes home hungry.

The other option is to not host a dinner, but rather snacks and appetizers. Include entertainment and set up enough games that everyone can play.

Not every gathering has to be about food.

I hope it goes well for you.